Update On Progress as of Sunday, August 18, 2013


For the schools in Orange County that are not in the city of Anaheim:


Pacifica is in the lead with 38 signatures!

For all participating schools in the city of Anaheim:


WOW — Katella High School has a whopping 778 signatures, with Loara and Anaheim close behind in second and third place with 467 and 461, respectively. Fantastic work!

We’ll have to find out what successful techniques these schools are using to gather signatures so other schools can borrow these methods.


Ten Reminders of Effective (School Board) Advocacy

  1. Check meeting calendar in October.
  2. Meet with a board member to place resolution on the agenda (probably in early September).
  3. For the Anaheim group, set up another meeting with mayor.
  4. Select 3-5 speakers and practice delivery (try not to repeat points).
  5. Go over reasons why the resolution needs to be passed and get feedback prior.
  6. Try to get a minimum of 25-50 people at the board meeting.
  7. Dress professionally.
  8. Get someone to take photos, video so it can be documented.
  9. Invite press if you know there will be a good turnout.
  10. Remember, you have a lot of authority.  School officials work for the community.

From a Teacher: P21 Thoughts


by Sharon Crawford. She is a retired English/History teacher who taught at Orangeview Junior High, in the Anaheim Union High School District.

“School sucks.” “School is boring.” “I will never have a use for this information — why learn it?”

As a teacher in the state of California, I hear this every day from my students. I am given a curriculum that requires students to pass a multiple choice test on a series of standards in basically the areas of English and math, while everything I read from fellow educators agrees with what I know to be true — this does not give our children the skills they need to thrive in the world beyond childhood.

Employers and colleges both feel that they are not getting students that are prepared to be an active part of higher education or the job market, and they are right. Changes have to be made at the grassroots level – in the classroom and through the school boards. While most schools have been emphasizing skills that enable a student to do well on a multiple choice test because funding is tied to the success or failure of students applying this particular skill, student mastery of life skills such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, and communication in today’s technologically demanding world have been put on the back shelf.  There is finally a glimmer of hope that this is changing — that higher thinking is not a lost art in America, and California in particular. This hope is found in the form of P21.

It is this hope that leads me to support the Our Future Now efforts to empower students to share their combined voices with the local school boards and city governments. We need to hear from those most closely affected – the future leaders and workers that will run our society soon. Even though this will impact students most directly, it will also shape the future of our country and our ability to participate in the global economy.

Our country has been gifted with an impressive array of talented people. We have been the innovative leaders in so many areas, and now is the time to apply that innovation and creativity to our most important resource — the minds of our youth. Bringing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills back to the classroom may just save America.

Fighting wars around the world and freeing other nations from tyranny will not make a difference if we lose what America has always stood for at home. Students, parents, educators, and government leaders all need to stand together to effectively provide our youth with the education they need and deserve. Urging the system to listen to the voices of our youth will help make this happen.



La Habra Elementary Leads the Way To 21st Century Education


Re-posted from the Voice of OC with permission by the author.
by Michael Matsuda

320px-Clementine_orangeOn Thursday, June 27, 2013, the La Habra Elementary School District Board of Education passed by 5-0 a strong resolution to support the Partnership for 21st Century Education (P21).

Board President Sharon Brown stated, “Our superintendent, Susan Belenardo, has been aware of P21 for a couple of years now and has used concepts and materials from the website to help staff focus on and integrate the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication) into our curriculum across grade levels and subject areas, especially during this past school year. This resolution further affirms and supports our ongoing commitment to help prepare all our students for high school, college, careers, and life in an increasingly complex, interconnected global world.

“We need to continue to move away from teaching to a multiple choice test to teaching the 4Cs so our kids are truly prepared for the challenges ahead.  We need to support our teachers who are creating wonderful project based learning activities that are engaging, relevant and rigorous. Not only is this is the type of education that parents, higher education and business leaders want, this is the type of education that America needs if we are to stay competitive.”

La Habra is among a few Orange County districts (of which Anaheim Union High School District is one) that are taking a proactive (21st century framework) stance in anticipation of the New Common Core standards and assessments that are to be implemented beginning in the fall, 2013 and assessed in the spring of 2015.

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Zombie X Rises Again: Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide, An Interview Part 2


ZombieX-150x150Greetings zombie fans! Sorry for taking so long to finish this blog post. For the past couple months, I have been called back to the zombie factory (a.k.a. school) where I receive an average of three to four hours of homework every day that has been squeezing the creativity out of me. This includes mostly busy work such as worksheets and other work practically out of the textbook. My math teacher assigns the most mindless busy work. I think he was trained in the Arne Duncan School of Bureaucratic Education. Unfortunately, I haven’t received any stimulating work such as document based assignments like in Rob Gaudette’s, which was mentioned in my first blog. Homework based on worksheets is what’s killing my generation. I am afraid that there will never be another Steve Jobs as long as teachers keep assigning us mindless crap.

Although most students never get current events in class, several national events worth knowing about are happening since my last blog entry. One of the major events is the “Occupy Wall Street” movement where the “99%” of Americans are rising up against the extremely wealthy “1%”. Over the last almost 30 years, the incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew by an average of 275% or $700,000. During the same time period, for the bottom 90%, income has actually decreased by $900. Let’s see, if we continue that trend, my generation will probably move to Canada-but they will likely build a wall to keep us out. Last month, my dad and I went to Los Angeles to visit the occupiers and we were impressed with their numbers and perseverance.

Over the summer on Kelly Gallagher’s advice, I finished the classic novel, 1984 by George Orwell which talks about a futuristic dystopian world. Within the novel, Orwell uses a term called “doublespeak” meaning to have several meanings which can be used to manipulate others. According to Wikipedia, “Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., ‘downsizing’ for layoffs), making the truth less unpleasant, without denying its nature.” Unfortunately, Doublespeak is alive and well today. For example, I just heard the Congress, in an attempt to block Obama’s healthy school lunch initiative, has declared in a bill that pizza is a vegetable. Come on! I think they are doing that because junk food companies are probably making a ton of money from the schools. Next thing you know, they’ll be saying pepper spray is a vegetable. But what do I know? I am just a kid-and a zombie at that. Another example that really gets me angry is use of the term “Department of Defense.” Don’t we mean Department of War? War — you know, when we go into another country like Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and kill a lot of civilians, children, and elderly people, all to protect our “democratic way of life.”

So now that we’re caught up with my life, I want to finish my series on great teachers. Last June, I interviewed Kelly Gallagher, an award winning teacher from Magnolia High School in Anaheim, California. Kelly is the author of several books including Readicide, which is about how schools are killing the love of reading because of all the testing. When I last left off, Kelly was telling me about the value of literature and writing and how I can learn about the world and myself through some of the greatest works of literature. “Great books have two purposes; they can be windows and they can be mirrors. Windows allow us to go anywhere and meet anybody in the world from Jesus to Adolf Hitler while mirrors let us look into ourselves to find out where we stand in the human chain.” It allows us to see how human we are. Zombies can’t do that.

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How to Start Something



Want to get your school board to fully embrace P21?

  1. Find the petition for your school.
  2. Sign, then use the Facebook or Twitter buttons to let everyone know you support and urge them to sign too!
  3. Share this post using the floating social networking buttons on the right side of the page.